Chapter 18

The eleventh and third Doctor's, with Donna in tow, had found the second Doctor's TARDIS. It was tucked away in a corner of the quarry, nestled against the base of a cliff. Facing the wrong way. The three of them were confronted by a blank blue wooden panel. Sighing, the third Doctor gave a few sharp, staccato raps on it.

"All that knowledge inside your head, Doctor. And you still don't know how to park properly. Didn't they have learner's training on your planet?" Donna scowled, tilting her head to glare at her version of the Doctor. "Where'd you get your license? Was it like, the special prize in the bottom of a crisp packet?"

"What makes you think I'd need a license, Donna?" Her brown-suited Doctor sniffed.

"Never mind him." The other Doctor touched the side of his nose with his forefinger and said in a confidential tone, "I'm afraid sometimes I'm still a little embarrassed to admit that I didn't pass my test the first time 'round."

"What? What? WHAT! I'm not...!" Donna's Doctor shouted indignantly, his voice almost squeaking in protest. "OK. Now you're just taking the Mickey. You know that exam was passed with perfect marks."

"Yes. That much is true, I admit." The third Doctor nodded his affirmation to Donna. "Passed it on the fifteenth try. Couldn't quite get the hang of third gear. Of course, it always helps to have a eróvery cooperative test evaluator. She had quite crush on me, as I recall." He was interrupted by a sudden noise. "Ah! Here we go! Better step back, you two."

A brisk wind stirred the damp night air, as the familiar wheezing sound grew stronger. The second Doctor's TARDIS faded away. Then immediately came back again. This time, with the doors facing towards them.

"I see I'm not the first one here. However, I believe there is something to be said for being fashionably late." Came a smug voice from behind them.

"And I suppose that should go for me, as well." Said another, much more cheerful voice.

Turning to look at the new arrivals, Donna saw a sprightly, smiling dark haired man in a black coat & plaid trousers. He was accompanied by a larger, curly headed bloke in a clown costume. She thought they looked a tad like a Time Lord's version of Laurel and Hardy.

Raising her eyebrows, Donna said to her Doctor, "Is this how you used to dress? That friend of yours. Rose. She made you wear that suit, didn't she?"

"I am perfectly capable of picking out my own clothing, Donna." He told her, returning her raised eyebrow for raised eyebrow. "Anyone can buy off the rack. I prefer to go for individuality. Rose did like the suit, though. Every once in a while I'd catch her out of the corner of my eye, staring my trousers. Especially when I was bending down to tie my shoelaces, for some reason. Humans can be very strange, sometimes."

At that moment, the door of the TARDIS was thrown open. Giving Donna got her first glimpse of the Doctor's seventh incarnation. Once inside the console room, this version of the Doctor gave them all a brief run down of why they had been summoned. He then introduced them to Amy. For the time being, Amy had temporarily recovered from the pain brought on by the contamination in her system.

"Now," said the second Doctor, rubbing his hands eagerly, "since you're the first to arrive, we might as well get started straight away. The others should be along shortly. According to my readings, not including my own, nine other TARDIS' have landed."

"Hang on." Amy frowned up at the seventh Doctor from her chair. "Shouldn't there be ten?"

"One of us seems to have been delayed, unfortunately. Probably just a technical glitch. Nothing to worry about Amy, I'm sure." He shrugged.

"Alright, now plug the green end of the frison cable into the blue end of the magnon cable. Or, conversely, the thin wire goes into the thick wire. Got that? Green into blue. Thin into thick."

"Keep the light steady, Doctor. I can't see green from blue if your torch is shining on the ceiling."

"Look, Rory. I know you're only human. But, I don't suppose you can work a little faster?" The eleventh Doctor whinged. "It's not very comfy lying on my stomach like this. I'm probably getting dirt all over my very cool bow-tie. Which would make it very un-cool."

The still-blind Doctor was laying flat on the floor, concentrating on keeping his torch steady. With no lights on, Rory's task was made that much harder whenever the Doctor lost concentration. With his growing impatience, this was happening more and more frequently. Several times in the past few minutes, the Doctor had unconsciously shifted the torch beam away from beneath the console where Rory was working.

"Right." Rory countered patiently, "And if I make a mistake and blow up the TARDIS, because I've been nagged to hurry, or because I can't see what I'm doing, whose fault will that be?"

"Yours, of course! Don't ask silly questions, Rory. Now is not the time for silliness. That comes later. We'll wear panto costumes and recite naughty limericks while dancing a tango with lampshades on our heads. But only after you've fixed the TARDIS. So get cracking!"

"We're...not actually going to do all those things, are we?" Rory asked hesitantly.

"Where's your sense of adventure, Rory?" The Doctor replied.

"In the broom cupboard. Along with my Roman sword and photos of my stag night." Rory quipped sourly.

"Oh, good. You've lost your sense of adventure, but not your sense of humour." The Doctor said dryly. Then he added, "Thing is, Rory. There won't be a broom cupboard if we can't get the power back online."

Rory nodded. "Good point, Doctor. Done here. What's next?"

"Help me up. You need to go to the control console, to realign the micronuclear cortex and link up the biofeedback couplings to the particle extractor."

"I have to do what?"

"Don't worry, Rory." The Doctor reassured him. "You're doing fine. Better than fine, even. Get going. I'll hum a few bars and you just keep trying to play along. When we're finished here, you'll be a shoe-in to win Britain's Got Talent."

"Or I'll be the one everyone points and laughs at." Rory mumbled, as he lead the Doctor up the stairs to the console deck. He paused. "Doctor? Do you really think Amy's OK?"

After a long pause, the Doctor said quietly, "Rory. You know I can't tell you that with absolute certainty." Then, he spoke more cheerfully, "Still, she's in good hands. Twenty pairs of themówell, twenty-one, if you count the hand I lost in that sword fight on Christmas day. What I mean is, Rory, try not to worry too much. I'm sure all ten of me are minding Amy, right now."

"That's what I'm afraid of, Doctor." Rory said skeptically. As they got to the console, he left the Doctor holding on the safety rail and took the torch from him. "One thing is for certain, though. I'm not going to get Amy back chatting about talent shows. So, tell me. Where's this cortex thingy I have to do whatever to?"

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